Whelan back on the tree warpath

By Tyla Harrington

ECHUCA’S Jennafer Whelan is fighting to save more trees in town.

But this time it is not one but six in Echuca’s historical precinct.

Campaspe Shire is planning to remove the trees as part of the Echuca Riverfront Development Project.

‘‘The reason people come to Echuca and come back again and again is its history and the preservation of that which is real ... our landscape along the river is vitally important, both in the bush and also in the urban areas,’’ Mrs Whelan said.

‘‘I have lodged an objection to the removal of the specific tree next to the old kiosk at 2 Watson St.

‘‘And will lodge an objection to the removal of five more magnificent examples of river gum in what is a most precious area of Echuca, right on the bank of the Murray River.

‘‘If this continues, the chipping away of natural heritage and that which is so relevant to our proud history, there will be nothing left.’’

Mrs Whelan met with Campaspe Shire on Thursday, last week.

She believes council should not remove the trees as part of the project but houseboats should be forced to moor outside of town.

‘‘This is the perfect chance to take them (the houseboats) out of the area – it would not be a huge issue – the operators would be simply told they have to moor and conduct their commercial business at least five say nautical miles from the CBD – it is done elsewhere, successfully,’’ Mrs Whelan said.

Council’s recreation manager Brett Flavell said it had explored many options to keep tree removal to a minimum.

‘‘Council has submitted a planning application for stage one of the Echuca Riverfront Development Project,’’ he said.

‘‘The application specifically relates to the restoration and improvements of the old Swimming Pool Kiosk building.

‘‘The works will involve an extension to the existing building towards Watson St to accommodate improvements to the kiosk and public viewing area.

‘‘The extension will also increase ground floor storage for canoes/kayaks and increase accessible space for community and commercial activities.’’

Mr Flavell said as part of the planning application process, council would refer to the Land Owner (the Crown) for the removal of the tree next to the kiosk at the Port of Echuca.

‘‘This tree has been identified as being of a basic biodiversity value,’’ he said.

‘‘Council engaged the services of Ecology and Heritage Partners to undertake a biodiversity assessment report for the riverfront development.

‘‘The report is available to the public from council’s website along with the biodiversity assessment report.

‘‘On completion of the riverfront development inclusive of stage two, there will be significant benefits for long-term protection of all trees within the Riverfront public open space.’’

The planning application has been on public exhibition since May 25.

It comes after VicRoads planned to remove a red gum to make way for a widened road as part of the Echuca-Moama bridge project.

Earlier this month, the roads agency said it was awaiting the final report from the arborist.

‘‘Once that report is finalised, we will review the recommendations and consult with the relevant stakeholders before making a final decision,’’ Echuca-Moama bridge project director Nigel Powers said at the time.